Write-up by Rick Jensen. Video by Automotionen.
The 2004-2005 Maserati MC12 is legendary in supercar circles. It was more race car than road car, and more visually appealing than the Ferrari Enzo it was based on. This 600-plus hp, V-12-powered beast went 0-60 in under 4 seconds and topped out at over 200 mph, and only 50 very lucky customers got the privilege to plop down 400,000 British pounds for one of these striking cars.
But in 2004, an even more striking racing version of the MC12 was built for the highly competitive FIA GT Championship series. The MC12 GT1 used a carbon fiber monocoque chassis and was powered by a V-12 that initially put out 750 horses, but was then restricted to 560 horses. While the GT1’s powerfully aerodynamic shape clearly retained much of the road car’s stunning design, it also featured an ultra-low center of gravity and precisely balanced weight distribution. The MC12 GT1’s excellent balance helped minimize tire wear, and it outclassed most other cars through the curves. Wins started to pile up in 2004, and in 2005 the GT1 dominated the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles for the next five years. The MC12 GT1 finally retired as one of the most celebrated GT racers in history.
In late August, Maserati celebrated its 100-year anniversary by bringing the MC12 GT1 out of retirement. A very special example of the all-conquering race car was let loose at Virginia International Raceway. The Maserati MC12 GT1 Centenario is a unique version of the Maserati MC12 Versione Corse, adorned with images recalling some of the most important chapters in Maserati history.
Driver Michael Bartels took the sculpted, straked GT1 on-track to the delight of the VIR crowd, and soon the shrieking V-12 was at redline. Matching the engine’s fury was the in-car noise and vibration of the sequential 6-speed gearbox, whining in mid-shift protest as prodigious power was put down. As the GT1 lapped, its exceptional balance betrayed the high speeds, and fast corners were dispatched smoothly and quickly. It was an awesome display from one of the world’s most dominant—and beautiful—race cars.